Wednesday, May 23

Marietta, Ohio Scenic Drive

Marietta, Ohio:  Scenic Drive Road Trip
(Great for Sports Cars or Motorcycles)

I had a few people keep telling me to write about my husband Bill and I's little road trips we take, so here goes.

We have a beautiful little 1990 Mazda Miata that I purchased from a friend of ours.  “Golf Club” Bill passed away from cancer a few years back, and his wife Becky sold me the car.

We usually drive about 1000 to 1500 miles a year on one to two day road trips around Ohio and surrounding states.

I think the longest trip we have taken so far with the Miata is to the Smoky Mountains to drive the
Tail of the Dragon. But that is a story for another day.

This May Mother’s Day weekend was sunny and warm so we decided to drive to one of our favorite little towns: Marietta, Ohio.

Shops in Downtown Marietta
Marietta began when in 1770 a young surveyor began exploring large tracts of land west of his native Virginia. During the Revolutionary War, this surveyor, George Washington, told his friend, General Rufus Putnam, of the beauty he had seen in his travels through the Ohio Valley and of his ideas for settling the territory. After the war, the newly formed country found itself with little money but blessed with natural resources. As a result of this cash deficit, men who had served in the revolution were paid, not with cash, but with warrants for land in the Northwest Territory.
In 1788, a group of men arrived at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers and established the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory. It was named Marietta in honor of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who had aided the young country in its battle for independence from Great Britain.

We started our trip on Friday evening, taking Interstate 70 and then heading south on Scenic Route 60.
It may be faster to take Interstate 70 to Interstate 77 south to Marietta, but route 60 is a prettier drive, and fun, especially if you’re driving a convertible or motorcycle.

And you get to drive through the charming little town of McConnellsville!

If you have enough time, you may want to stop for lunch at the
Blue Bell Diner in McConnelsville.

It is reminiscent of a 1950’s diner, complete with counter seating and delicious cheeseburgers.

McConnelsville also has Erie Canal Locks, an old Opera House, War statues, the Button House museum and beautiful historic mansions.

This little town could take another whole day of exploring! (Which we have done).

We continued on Route 60, arriving in downtown Marietta and our accommodations, the Historic Lafayette Hotel. The Lafayette Hotel is in the heart of historic downtown Marietta, walking distance to the riverfront, shops and restaurants.

The Lafayette Hotel

One of the last riverboat-era hotels, the Lafayette opened in 1918, with each room decorated in period antique furniture. It was named after Marquis de Lafayette. The hotel has a distinctive triangular shape, and some guest rooms have views of the Ohio or Muskingum rivers. Our favorite rooms are on the point of the building’s triangle.

The hotel has a collection of long rifles, an 11 foot pilot wheel from a real river steamboat, a ballroom, a bar and a restaurant.

Guest rooms decorated with period Antiques
The Lafayette Hotel is different in d├ęcor and layout than the newer chain Hotel / Motels but is reasonably priced and is comparable to a night’s stay at the chain hotels.

Although the Lafayette has a restaurant, for breakfast we usually take the short walk to Harmar Village and the Harmar Tavern. 

Harmar Tavern is famous for their bologna sandwich, but breakfast is great too!

To get to Harmar Village, drive the few blocks from the Hotel or for the more adventurous like us, walk across the historic railroad bridge. The front desk can give you directions.

Old railway bridge to Harmar Village

View from the old railway bridge to Harmar Village

Historic Harmar Village has brick streets, street lamp posts, restored train cars, historic buildings, and home to various shops, eateries and three museums.

Shops in Harmar Village

Shops in Harmar Village

With full bellies we begin our day’s adventure. We start by touring the Henderson Hall mansion, which is just a short drive from Marietta.

The mansion is located across the Ohio River on Route 2, in Williamstown, WV. An Italianate Villa-style mansion, Henderson Hall is a nineteenth-century time capsule.

Historic Henderson Hall
A rarity, this Victorian residence has survived the years with all of its contents intact. The stately home has remained virtually unchanged since the day it was completed in 1859, having never left the family until it was donated for use as a museum. The $5.00 admission fee is well worth it to see the numerous antiques, mementos, and stories held in every room. There is just too much to see, each room so full of beautiful antiques and history, to fully appreciate this exquisite home in one visit.
Tour of Henderson Hall and grounds
After touring Henderson Hall we headed north out of Marietta on Route 26. This part of our weekend is my husband’s favorite, taking the Miata around all those crazy curves! Following Route 26 we then turn left (or north) onto SR 260, then left onto 565 to left on County Road 145 and then take 821 to Route 60, back into Marietta. This is one very curvy large sort of circle, going through Wayne National and Monroe National Forest. These are all well maintained paved roads, but if you want to view the covered bridges or campgrounds you will be travelling on gravel roads.

Hune Covered Bridge
On this route you will pass 3 covered bridges, fields of wildflowers, farms, an Amish buggy or two, and primitive campsites such as Lane Farm Campground, Hune Bridge Campground and Haught Run Campground. But you will not pass a store, restaurant or gas station so make sure to stock up on “provisions” before you leave!

Provisions: Food, drinks and snacks to be shared by all, but not to be confused with Rations.
Rations: A snack just for oneself, in case you run out of provisions.
(Our daughter Alexis’s definition)

There is one little store/carryout in Marr, Ohio called Park’s General Store. It’s on State Route 260 and looks pretty much like it would have looked 50 or 75 years ago. Here you can get drinks and snacks, finally!
 Before heading back to the Lafayette Hotel, we conclude our day by having dinner at the House of Wines on SR 60, just north of Marietta.
House of Wine's French Onion Soup!
A restaurant and wine shop that's a small older one story building located next to the Muskingum River. The restaurant half has a "European Pub" feel to it and weather permitting, there’s an outdoor patio overlooking the Muskingum River.

The House of Wines features the largest variety of American and imported wines in the Mid-Ohio Valley, and stocks over 400 imported and micro-brewed beers. One of the things that keeps bringing us back is the food! Their Swiss (French) Onion soup is to die for. And cheese and meat tray with sourdough bread and homemade horseradish sauce is wonderful too.

House of Wine's cheese and meat tray with sourdough bread
You can also pick out a bottle of wine from the wine shop at a very reasonable price, have them chill it, and then enjoy it with dinner.
Like a bottle from one of Ohio's very own winery:  Mon Ami Winery.
The owner of the House of Wines, Erlan Wheeler, is a nice guy but not real talkative. I guess he lets the atmosphere and great food do the talking for him. and boy does their food talk to me! I rarely order desserts having usually eaten too much dinner, but their desserts are well worth it. My favorite so far is the Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake! Heaven!

Austyn's Restaurant's Black and Bleu Ribeye
One place not visited on this trip, but usually is: Austyn’s Restaurant. It’s a little more formal or upscale, and is located right across the street from the Lafayette Hotel. It’s another great restaurant to visit while in Marietta. A couple of our favorite dishes there are the Black and Bleu Ribeye and the Rack of Lamb. A must have: The little fried dinner rolls!

After a long day, it is wonderful to get back to the Hotel. For a night cap you may want to stop in at the Lafayette Hotel's on site bar, or check to see if they are hosting a roof top party. We were lucky enough to attend one of the hotel's roof top parties, which was very romantic: tables set with candles and cocktails on the Hotel roof overlooking the soft glow of downtown Marietta at night.

Just a note: This is just one trip around Marietta. There is so much to see and do in the area and Parkersburg, West Virginia is just over the bridge.

Also for a less expensive trip (not counting gas) pack sandwiches instead of eating out, camp instead of a Hotel, or just go for the day instead of the weekend.  If you chose to go camping, I recommend you still stop in and visit the Lafayette Hotel, just to see it.
It is one of a kind.


For more things and do in Marietta and the surrounding area:

Marietta's Covered bridges

Harmar Village and Hartel Shipyard

Ohio River Museum

Things to see and Do in Marietta

Appalachian Wine Trail


Kim said...

Have I mentioned how much I love your blog? It's like living in your world. :) You are a skilled blogger, for sure! Beautiful pictures and I love the Miata, it reminds me of my in-laws. :) They have a silver 1991. Have a wonderful Holiday weekend!

p.s. Thank you for the comment on my blog! I will post pictures next week of the garden. No, the goats aren't mine. I've been working hard on convincing my husband that we need dwarf goats. lol

Unknown said...

Hi Elizabeth!

Thanks for sharing your wonderful Ohio travel adventures with us! It's great seeing and hearing about the state's many great destinations through somebody else's eyes. I look forward to many more. Safe travels!

Roger Barker
Electronic Information Coordinator
Ohio Office of Tourism

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading about your visit to Marietta-Washington County and beyond. And you are right, the Swiss Onion soup is to die for!!!

ReSTORE Marietta said...

I am writing to let you know about a new event here in Marietta, Ohio, The Motorcycle and Auto Tour, sponsored by Hometown Honda, that will be taking place on June 9th. The riders can choose from one of four custom mapped rides through the area, including two “sport” driving/riding routes like the Triple Nickel and Son of the Dragon. Our “cruiser” routes include the Crooked Tree Cruiser and the Scenic By Way Route. Come enjoy a great ride or drive, and then cruise across the street to check out the Brick Street BBQ Competition!

Registration is from 9am-11am in the Tiber Way Parking lot, next to The Galley (the corner of Second Street and Butler Street in Downtown Marietta, Ohio.)

This is an official event of the Brick Street BBQ. For more information on the Motorcycle and Auto Tour, and other Brick Street BBQ events, visit us at:

All proceeds from the event(s) benefit ReSTORE Marietta, a non-profit organization dedicated to making Marietta, Ohio a great place to live, work, shop, and invest. For more information about ReSTORE Marietta, please visit us at

We hope you can join us!

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Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thank you, it warms my heart to hear that some of my posts are helpful or useful! Stop back anytime!

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Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Donations, hmmmmm...... I'll take livestock, hay, straw and crafting supplies, haha.
Just kidding, no but really, ; > )
Thanks for the compliment and I hope you continue to read my blog. Have a great New Year!

Anonymous said...

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Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Why thank you much!

Anonymous said...

Hey there, You have done an excellent job about Marietta and I recommend this to my friends who also live in the area. We love it here too!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

We agree, it's a beautiful town and friendly people!

Anonymous said...

Great post. Beth